What Is the Cause of Freckles?

Alex Tree

Freckles are caused by sun exposure and genetics. Simple freckles are the result of genetics, and they tend to be light in color and relatively round in shape. Sunburn freckles are the result of spending too much time in the sun without protection; these freckles are darker than simple freckles, with jagged edges. Certain people are more prone to freckles than other people. Knowing the cause of freckles can help prevent them.

Freckles are commonly caused by genetics.
Freckles are commonly caused by genetics.

Simple freckles are very common and genetic in nature. People who have simple freckles might have just a couple of them or even thousands. They sometimes cover the vast majority of a person’s face, arms, and other body parts frequently exposed to the sun. Simple freckles in children generally lighten or disappear with age. Citric acid, laser treatments, and some types of cream can also help fade simple freckles, but they are known to come back when the area is exposed to sun again.

Simple freckles in young people may lighten or disappear with age.
Simple freckles in young people may lighten or disappear with age.

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Sunburn freckles, also known as liver spots, age spots, or lentigines, are a different kind freckle. The cause of freckles in this case is overexposure to the sun and, due to the amount of sun needed to develop these spots, they are most often seen in people more than 40 years old. In addition, people more than this age have skin that is less able to keep up with damage, resulting in a spottier skin complexion. Unlike simple freckles, these spots generally do not fade in winter when the sun is less of a problem.

Wearing a broad-brimmed hat while outdoors can help to prevent freckles.
Wearing a broad-brimmed hat while outdoors can help to prevent freckles.

People who have light skin usually have more freckles than people who have dark skin. Freckles are often seen on people who have red hair and green eyes, because they are usually naturally fair in complexion. Developing freckles is rarely an actual health problem, but light-skinned people are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer. Besides this, there is no reason to fade or eliminate freckles other than personal preference.

Laser treatments can help lighten or remove freckles.
Laser treatments can help lighten or remove freckles.

As a primary cause of freckles is sun, wearing sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat outdoors can go a long way toward preventing them. If possible, people with fair skin should also avoid prolonged periods outdoors when it is most sunny. While freckles themselves are not dangerous, they are a sign that the skin is sensitive to the skin and may develop skin cancer faster than in many people. Lastly, avoiding the cause of freckles is not always possible, because they are genetic and can even appear on babies.

People who hope to lighten existing age or sun spots should limit their exposure to the sun's rays.
People who hope to lighten existing age or sun spots should limit their exposure to the sun's rays.

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